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Lexington History, Kentucky

Lexington history has been quite interesting from the very beginning. The city made its beginning as a campsite in 1775; back then, of course, it was part of the US state of Virginia (as the state of Kentucky was established only in 1792). The same year the campsite (on the Middle Fork of Elkhorn Creek) was named Lexington by the resident company following the victory of the colonists in the Battle of Lexington (Massachusetts). Soon, however, the campsite was abandoned.

Lexington History – Permanent Settlement and Incorporation

Permanent settlement in the Lexington region began in 1779, when Colonel Robert Patterson (the same Colonel Patterson who founded the city of Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1788) and his 25 companions arrived here (from Harrodsburg) and set up a sort of fort. The following year, in 1780, the Virginian district of Kentucky was divided into three counties – Fayette, Jefferson and Lincoln. In 1782, Lexington was incorporated as a town and was made the county seat of Fayette County and it continues to be so even today. (The county seats of Jefferson County and Lincoln County are Louisville and Stanford).

Lexington History – The Next Hundred Years

The next hundred years of Lexington history saw the city going through alternating phases of development and decline, repute and disrepute.

The 1780s saw Lexington becoming a seat of higher learning with the Transylvania College relocating from Danville. Soon after Lexington was named the temporary capital of the state of Kentucky (post its admission in the Union in 1792), the city attained fame as an industrial and trading center. And then, the opening years of the 19th century saw the genesis of Lexington’s Horse Industry – the trade of breeding, rearing and training of thoroughbred race-horses – the industry that has earned the city of the inner Bluegrass Region its acclaim as the ‘Horse Capital of the World’. All these together brought so many dramatic changes that by the 1820s Lexington became one of the most prosperous towns west of the Allegheny Mountains. The developments in the social and cultural areas also became apparent around this time and the town won the name ‘Athens of the West’.

The 1950s saw the town mired in controversies because of its sizeable slave population. The town did break away from its dark-image to regain its reputation and the 1860s even saw the establishment of the University of Kentucky. The closing decades of the 19th century saw Lexington venture into tobacco farming side-by-side Horse Industry.

Lexington History – 20th Century Onwards

If Lexington made headlines in the 19th century by trying tobacco farming, it again rose to prominence in the 20th century with the establishment of USA’s first alcohol/drug rehabilitation clinic.

Present-day Lexington continues its association with the Horse Industry (it is the chosen venue of the 2010 World Equestrian Games), cattle-rearing, tobacco farming but now it also happens to have a very organized service sector that creates employment for its many inhabitants. Modern Lexington not only prides in its academic institutions and communities, it is also a very up-to-date city with hosts of hotels, restaurants, museums, galleries and assures the best amenities to its populace.

Before we end this narrative on Lexington history, it would be necessary to add that the settlement, which had in the 1780s/1790s a population of around 18000, has now 28 million.

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  • WazlingWaveland State Historic Site
    travel tip by Wazling posted more then 30 days ago
    The one hour tour of the Waveland State Historic Site comprises so much information and interesting facts about the lives of plantation owners and their household in Kentucky that you feel you've been richer with more knowledge about...
  • sunnybeachAshland: The Henry Clay Estate
    travel tip by sunnybeach posted more then 30 days ago
    Visiting Ashland: The Henry Clay Estate just for the exterior of the house and the grounds around it would have been worth a trip for me. The house itself is still beautiful though it has been around for centuries. Inside there are about...
  • lindamuraMary Todd Lincoln House
    travel tip by lindamura posted more then 30 days ago
    Found in the heart of Lexington, the home of 16th President's wife, the Mary Todd Lincoln House is a must while visiting the city. The tours last only an hour with detailed background info and knowledgeable answers to your questions....
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